How to Register & Title a Vehicle in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania motor vehicle registration is mandatory for all vehicles. “How do I register my car in Pennsylvania?” is a question you may ask as a vehicle owner. While car registration online may be an option in some states, Pennsylvania requires car registration to be done in person at a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) office. A new car registration also has different requirements than getting car registration documents for a used motor vehicle. How to get car registration documents for both new and used vehicles is important to distinguish, depending on your scenario. In addition to learning how to get car registration, vehicle owners can review details about Pennsylvania car title requirements and procedures in the sections outlined below.

Car Registration for New Pennsylvania Residents

Registration of vehicle procedures as a new resident who has just moved to Pennsylvania differ slightly, in that you have 20 days to obtain your car registration card or your vehicle title. You may ask, “What do I need to register my car, or what does registering my car entail?” along with questioning how to get car title documents. Registering your car will require you to have several documents. In order to obtain car registration documents, you must have a valid Pennsylvania driver's license. You may obtain your registration card with U.S. Armed Forces Common Access Card or a U.S. Uniformed Services Identification and Privileges Card instead of a driver's license. In order to get car registration documents, you must also have proof of insurance and verification of your vehicle identification number (VIN).

To obtain a car registration card in Pennsylvania, bring those documents with you to the nearest PennDOT office. In order to register your car, you will also need to fill out an Application for Certificate of Title. Getting a registration card for leased vehicles requires additional forms. Learn more about registering vehicles in PA by downloading our comprehensive guide.

How to do I register my car as a current Pennsylvania resident?

Car registration requirements are different for those seeking a registration card when already living in Pennsylvania. Getting motor vehicle registration when purchasing a new or used vehicle will require you get the car title documents and registration card at the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). (The registration and title for your card are taken care of by a dealer if you purchase from one, whereas purchasing a car from a private seller will require you to navigate the process yourself.)

Submit all applications for a registration for your motor vehicle in person at a PennDOT office. Your new or used car registration application requires you bring several things with you. For the motor vehicle registration process, you must bring proof of vehicle ownership. There are different proofs of ownership for a new car, as opposed to a used vehicle, so be sure you have the proper one with you. New DMV car registration requires that you provide the Manufacturer Certificate of Origin (MCO) or the Manufacturer Statement of Origin (MSO). To obtain your registration card, make sure you have your state driver's license with you, as well proof of car insurance.

Getting vehicle registration documents requires that you have an emissions and safety inspection done within 10 days of the date of purchase. You must also be prepared to pay for your auto registration, as well as filling out the forms, including those to get the title for your car.

Learn all about titling and registration procedures in our informative guide.

Additional Pennsylvania Car Registration Information

Registering your car may also require a Motor Vehicle Verification of Fair Market Value by the Issuing Agent (Form MV-3) filled out if you purchased the vehicle for less than 80 percent of its market value. Note that your car registration will require an Affidavit of Gift (Form MV-13ST) if you received the car as a gift. Your car registration process also requires your license plate from your old car if you are transferring it over. When it comes to auto registration for a used vehicle, it requires that you provide the title that has been signed over to you from the owner who sold you the vehicle, in addition to the odometer statement.

When it comes to motor vehicle registration fees in PA, they may vary, depending on where in Pennsylvania you live. The fees for passenger vehicle registration also differ from those of fees for other types of motor vehicles, such as those for a motorcycle or a truck. Taxes will also differ from county to county.

Download our comprehensive guide to find out more about vehicle registration and titling in Pennsylvania.